Canberra: A confident fightback from two young batsmen jostling for the same spot in the Test line-up, Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma, steadied the Indian innings after it had slumped to 84 for 4 against the Cricket Australia Chairman’s XI in Canberra.
The Indian batting had struggled on a damp surface after two rain intervals, but Kohli and Rohit's 78-run partnership meant the visitors took some positives from a truncated first day's play.
Having opted to bat in their second and final tour match before the Boxing Day Test on December 26, the Indian top order came undone against the CA Chairman's XI pace attack. A soggy outfield following overnight rain delayed the proceedings until after lunch, and early into their innings the Indians lost Virender Sehwag for 12, edging Peter George to gully where Alex Doolan picked up a smart low catch.
Having resumed on 51 for 1 after 16 overs following a rain delay, the visitors were again ushered off the field as bad light held up play. Upon resumption a second time, it was bad news for the Indians as Ajinkya Rahane (15) edged Josh Lalor to slip where Usman Khawaja held a smart catch. Soon after, an unconvincing Gautam Gambhir – who had played and missed several times and struck on the fingers by fast bowler Jason Behrendorff – missed a straight delivery from the same bowler and was bowled for 24. That left the score at 53 for 3, with two new batsmen in Kohli and VVS Laxman at the crease.
Laxman, who took 17 balls to open his account, had a big appeal for lbw by Australian Test discard Doug Bollinger turned down in the 29th over, which left the bowler rather disgruntled, and added to the frustration by punching a straight boundary in the same over to open his account off 17 balls. Bollinger came in for further treatment as Kohli took two boundaries off him in the next over; one edged and the other down the ground.
However, a change of bowling brought the desired result for the Chairman's XI. Jon Holland, a slow left-arm bowler, removed Laxman who walked across his stumps and was bowled. The very next ball, Rohit was put down at short leg as he pushed forward to Holland and got an inside edge.
Kohli appeared in control of his innings, driving Holland past extra-cover for four and taking two more boundaries off George, the second of which raised the Indian 1oo off 229 balls in 161 minutes.
The introduction of Cameron Boyce inspired Rohit, who had faced 22 balls for three runs, to take three fours off the bowler's first over. Boyce's first two balls were dispatched over midwicket and mid-on, and his fifth forced off the back foot past point. Boyce should have had Rohit except Khawaja dropped a catch at slip, and the punishment continued as Kohli collected three off-side boundaries to close in on his fifty.
At the other end, Rohit used his feet to loft Holland for four and six, before Kohli reached his half-century off 90 deliveries to steer the score to 162 for 4 at stumps.
Among the notable absentees from the 13 playing from the visitors' side were Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid, besides pace bowlers Ishant Sharma and Vinay Kumar.